2006 Saab 9-7X review and pictures

Posted on Thursday, 2 March 2006 , 19:03:18 byEmil

Filed under Saab

Saab 9-7X

Significant extension of Saab model lineup targeting one of the fastest-growing vehicle segments
Styling, performance and driving characteristics create a sporty, fun-to-drive offering in the SUV segment
Comprehensive standard equipment including all-wheel drive, StabiliTrak, side curtain air bags, leather-appointed seats, 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels, OnStar and XM Satellite Radio

Two models - 9-7X with award-winning 290-horsepower, 4.2L inline six-cylinder; 9-7X V-8 with 300-horsepower 5.3-liter with fuel-saving Displacement on Demand technology

As part of an aggressive and unprecedented product development program, Saab is launching its first SUV, the new 9-7X. Expanding its model offering to four vehicle lines, Saab is now targeting one of the fastest-growing market segments in North America. Sales in the mid-luxury SUV segment increased from about 50,000 vehicles a year in 1997 to more than 483,000 in 2004. By 2010, the segment is projected to reach 850,000 in annual vehicle sales.

The all-new 9-7X will bring unique Saab characteristics to this growing segment, including sophisticated exterior and interior styling; premium design features, safety and quality; a chassis tuned to deliver sporty and fun-to-drive performance; and the ignition cylinder in the center console behind the gear lever. As a seamless fit with the other products in the Saab portfolio, it will appeal to customers looking for a driver's vehicle with the versatility of a SUV. The vehicle will be built at GM's Moraine, Ohio assembly plant.

"The 9-7X is a crucial addition to our lineup, providing customers with Saab's driver-focused interpretation of an SUV and filling an important need in our growth strategy," said Jan-Åke Jonsson, Saab Automobile AB managing director. "The Saab 9-7X emphasizes the 'sport' aspect of the sport-utility vehicle."

Saab's market research revealed that 39 percent of Saab customers in the U.S. currently have a SUV in the household. Furthermore, almost 30 percent of Saab customers who leave the Saab brand purchase a four-door SUV. "The new Saab 9-7X will provide our dealers with a world-class SUV to satisfy existing Saab customers and attract new ones," said Jay Spenchian, Saab USA general manager. "The 9-7X plays a crucial role in the most aggressive product expansion in Saab's 58-year history."

The Saab 9-7X Linear comes standard with a newly upgraded 4.2L Inline six-cylinder engine delivering 290 horsepower (217 kw) and 277 lb.-ft. (375 Nm) of torque;* vehicle stability control; leather-appointed seats; 18-inch aluminum alloy wheels; side curtain air bags; al-wheel drive and a six-speaker, 275-watt Bose sound system with six-disc CD changer; power moonroof, navigation and rear-seat DVD system. The V-8 model adds a 5.3L engine with fuel-saving Displacement on Demand technology; xenon headlamps; headlamp washers and adjustable pedals.

Refinement at first glance

"The exterior and interior design of the Saab 9-7X are in line with the vehicle's dynamic road behavior, and convey the sporty refinement of a Saab rather than the ruggedness of a traditional SUV," said Saab senior designer Simon Padian. "For example, the interior features such Saab icons as the air vents with their distinctive sliding plate design, the famed cup holder like the Saab 9-5, and a center console ignition key."

The 9-7X reflects Saab's sporty and functional brand character throughout its exterior design. Key features such as Saab's signature three-port grille, rear quarter windows that visually appear to wrap around the D-pillars and brand-distinctive wheels telegraph the 9-7X's heritage even from a distance. Overall, the Saab 9-7X presents a very smooth, aerodynamic, sporty appearance, with an excellent body-to-tire relationship derived from the vehicle's low stance in combination with its standard 18-inch wheels.

The 9-7X's profile is clean and uninterrupted, without any big bumper offsets or protruding shapes and forms. The tail lamps are vertically stacked with clear acrylic lenses, reflector optics and precision-detailed bezels combining to create a precision-crafted effect.

The Saab 9-7X's cockpit-inspired interior features high-quality materials and finishes. The new instrument panel's center stack and controls are angled toward the driver and feature Saab's trademark strong, brand-distinctive design elements and cues.

Performance focuses on the driver

Like all Saabs, the 9-7X is designed to be a driver's vehicle. To help achieve its comfortable, well-controlled ride and responsive handling, the Saab 9-7X uses a uniquely tuned double A-arm front suspension with front coil spring and a five-link, electronically controlled rear air suspension. The Saab 9-7X has been developed to deliver responsive European driving characteristics and a low ride height with firm front and rear suspensions, a thick front stabilizer bar and stiff upper control arm bushings at the rear.

All shock absorbers have been tuned to help provide firm body control for confident handling. The P255/55R18 high-performance all-season tires were specially developed by Dunlop for their road-gripping capability. A quick 18.5:1 steering gear ratio, together with stiff mounts, were designed to help provide steering responsiveness and precision. The steering gear itself is tuned for on-center feel and smooth operation. The front part of the frame is stiffened with braces to help increase steering responsiveness and precision.

The Saab 9-7X features standard advanced automatic all-wheel drive. Traction and handling performance are further enhanced by a standard limited-slip rear differential. Brakes are large, four-wheel vented discs with front aluminum dual-piston calipers and four-wheel ABS.

Customers can choose between two all-aluminum engines, which are coupled with a standard electronically controlled four-speed automatic transmission. The 4.2L Inline 6, elected one of the "10 Best Engines" by Ward's Magazine, delivers 290 hp (217 kw) and 277 lb.-ft. (375 Nm) of torque. The 5.3L V-8 delivers 300 hp (224 kW) and 330 lb.-ft. (447 Nm) of torque, and includes fuel-saving Displacement on Demand (DOD) technology.

DOD enables fuel economy gains of up to 8 percent in certain driving conditions by reducing the number of cylinders engaged in the combustion process. A sophisticated, next-generation engine controller determines when to deactivate cylinders, allowing the engine to maintain vehicle speed in conditions such as highway cruising. When the cylinders are deactivated, the engine effectively operates as a four cylinder, with every other cylinder in the firing order disabled. The engine seamlessly returns to V-8 mode the instant the controller determines that vehicle speed or load requires additional power.

The newly standard StabiliTrak electronic stability control system is an important crash-avoidance feature that assists the vehicle in maintaining the driver's intended path by applying a brake force at any corner of the vehicle independent of the driver's use of the brake pedal.

The system uses an accelerator pedal position sensor, a brake master cylinder pressure sensor and a steering wheel angle sensor as inputs to interpret the driver's desired path and whether to accelerate or decelerate the vehicle. It also uses these sensors plus a lateral accelerometer and yaw rate sensor to determine the vehicle's actual path.

If the difference between the driver's desired path and the vehicle's actual path becomes great enough, the system takes appropriate action to assist the driver with maintaining the desired path. If the vehicle begins to "plow," or understeer, the system applies the inside rear brake to help turn the vehicle. If the vehicle begins to fishtail, or oversteer, the system applies the outside front brake to straighten the vehicle.

"The Saab 9-7X is an excellent example of Saab's expertise applied to achieve sporty, driver-focused performance," said Kjell-Åke Eriksson, Saab executive director for future products. "Although it offers excellent versatility, it is still a delight to drive, with minimal body roll and a firm but subtle, quiet ride."

On top of its well-mannered vehicle dynamics, the Saab 9-7X features a comprehensive standard safety package, including:

Dual-stage front air bags

Passenger Sensing System

Rollover sensing system

< Head curtain side air bags

< Front seat belt pretensioners with load limiters

Front seat belt buckle-up reminder

Room for people and their luggage

With a wheelbase of 113 inches (2,870 mm) and an overall length of 193.2 inches (4,808 mm), the Saab 9-7X offers ample room for friends and family. It holds up to 39.8 cubic feet (1,127 cubic liters) of cargo space with the rear seatback up and 80.1 cubic feet (2,268 cubic liters) with the seatback folded down. A 65/35 split rear seat is standard in all 9-7X models, as is a trailer hitch receiver and hitch receiver cover. Maximum towing capacity equipped with the V-8 engine is 6,500 lb. (2,948 kg).

* Horsepower and torque SAE Certified. A new voluntary power and torque certification procedure developed by the SAE Engine Test Code committee was approved March 31, 2005. This procedure (J2723) ensures fair, accurate ratings for horsepower and torque by allowing manufacturers to certify their engines through third-party witness testing. GM was the first manufacturer to begin using this procedure and expects to use it for all newly rated engines in the future.